Walker, Johnson in runoff to be mayor of Rolling Fork

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2003

[9/17/03]Eldridge J. “Butch” Walker and Billy G. Johnson led the field and will face each other Tuesday in a runoff special election for mayor of Rolling Fork.

Walker, co-owner of a funeral home and president of the Sharkey County Board of Supervisors, and Johnson, a businessman and retired director of public services for the Sharkey County town, were two of six candidates in Tuesday’s special election for mayor.

The election was held to fill the position of Gary Henderson, who resigned in July to move to another county. The winner of the runoff will finish Henderson’s term that expires in 2005.

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Among others, Sandy “Butch” Griffin had 19 votes; James Macon had 20; James McDaniel had 61 and Ezell A. Williams had 48 votes.

Walker polled 344 votes or 41.7 percent of the total 824 ballots cast, giving him more than any other candidate. He said he was looking forward to Tuesday’s election when he hopes to be the new mayor.

Both candidates said they didn’t mind having to campaign an extra week. Walker who emphasized attracting new industries, enhancing recreation and economic growth and promoting a spirit of inclusiveness in city government said he was disappointed with voter turnout. He said he hoped to energize more voters into voting in the runoff election.

“The voter turnout was relatively low,” Walker said after the election results were in. “We’re hoping to turn it around.”

Johnson polled 332 votes or 40.3 percent of the total. He campaigned on promoting tourism throughout the city, attracting jobs and revitalizing downtown.

Johnson said he was thankful to to be in the runoff and looked forward to campaigning during the next week.

“I feel proud and humble,” Johnson said Tuesday night. “I’m going back one more time, to every house.”

The mayor of Rolling Fork is paid $15,080 annually.